Book Review: “I’ll Drink to That” by Rudolph Chelminski

chelminskiWith so much emphasis placed upon Burgundy and Bordeaux these days, the demure wines of Beaujolais receive very little attention among wine critics. Of course, this type of elitism has become endemic among wine writers, since wine has been subject to rampant deconstruction in recent years. Thanks to the dreaded 100-point scale (coupled with some outlandish flavor descriptors), the casual enjoyment of wine seems to have become a quaint afterthought for the dedicated aficionado.

In “I’ll Drink to That,” author Rudolph Chelminski helps to remove some of the pretense surrounding wine by extolling the virtues of the humble Beaujolais (the region, the people, and the wine itself). The books contains a large portion of underdog appeal, with a lucid account of Beaujolais’ rise in popularity and its subsequent demise due its own success. The strength of the book, however, lies in the author’s ability to portray the Beaujolais connection with the culinary epicenter of Lyon, and at times, “I’ll Drink to That” becomes an insightful treatise on French gastronomy.

Without a doubt, Chelminski feels a deep-rooted connection with all aspects of this region, although this connection sometimes becomes a bit tiresome in certain parts of the book. Lavish praise for George Deboeuf, one of the leading negociants of Beaujolais, becomes a bit syrupy and redundant at times, whether or not these kind words are actually warranted. Despite a few overwrought passages, however, “I’ll Drink to That” offers a refreshing and informative perspective on Beaujolais, documenting the region’s early winemaking history and providing insight into its modest, peasant heritage.

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